Minority Mental Health Advocate: Emily Wu Truong


"If I wanted to change the world, I knew that change would have to start with me. " -Emily

Tell us about the work you do and how you got started.

I have been a motivational speaker for 4 years now. I believe I had to experience my years of depression and anxiety in order to bring me on the path that I'm on now. Before my mental health advocacy, I had two jobs where I felt disrespected, and I finally realized that I needed to learn how to respect and love myself! In July 2013, there was a legislative briefing on Asian American mental health, and I was so excited that this highly stigmatized subject would be highlighted. Then towards the end of the event, when the event facilitators asked if anyone wanted to say a few words regarding their experience during the program, I took my stand at the podium and stated, "I will not end my life because I have a story to share. The more we talk about mental health, the more we will alleviate the stigma. There is no shame. There is no shame!" That is when I began my grassroots journey to bring awareness to mental health in my communities.

Why does minority mental health matter to you?

Minority mental health matters to me because the struggles communities of color face have not historically been recognized. When people stereotype and compare groups of people, they make hurtful assumptions. For me, the model minority myth created social pressures for students from Asian Pacific American backgrounds to excel in education to attend the best Ivy League schools and eventually become doctors and lawyers. But what about the students who didn't feel like their calling was in medicine or law? Each person, with their own cultural background, has their own personality and unique journey. I just so happened to create my path as a motivational speaker for mental health awareness because the stigma was just too strong in our Asian Pacific American communities. If I wanted to change the world, I knew that change would have to start with me.

What would you tell your younger self?

Feelings of inadequacy are normal but don't expect perfectionism in this world. That is an unrealistic goal to place on yourself or anyone else because none of us are robots. We are human. Don't fault yourself for not knowing what you didn't before. When you know better, you do better. We can't make everyone happy. So validate yourself for every effort you make because you are trying. Trying is better than not attempting at all. Strive for progress - not perfection. Take things one day at a time. Figure out what life lessons you are learning from your moments of adversity, and always know that you ARE capable. You HAVE skills. You ARE talented, & you are smarter than you think you are!

Listen to Emily's story here. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.